Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Guangzhou Announces 72-Hour Visa-Free Stay

Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong Province and the third largest city in China, will allow transit passengers from 45 countries to stay in the city for 72 hours without a visa, similar to the new policy announced in Beijing and Shanghai.

Guangzhou is an important center in south China, with a large airport that sees thousands of international passenger arrivals each day via China Southern Airlines. Situated on the Pearl River, Guangzhou is an active city with a mix of traditional sights and modern-day attractions – and is certainly worth visiting while in China.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Sirius Chamber Ensemble: Music for Wind Quintet and Piano

Sirius Chamber Ensemble
Sydney based Sirius Chamber Ensemble is quickly building a reputation as an exciting young group of musicians performing diverse works for woodwinds, strings, brass and piano. Since their launch in 2011, Sirius Ensemble has established a growing and loyal audience at its concert series, with highlights including the premieres of new works by Nigel Ubrihien and Adrienne Albert, and performances of many of the greatest chamber works written, including Beethoven’s Septet Op.20, Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet Op.115, Nielsen’s Wind Quintet and Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time.

For their Upper Hunter concert, Sirius Chamber Ensemble will bring a woodwind quintet and pianist Claire Howard Race to perform some of the greatest music for the combination. The program will include Beethoven’s Quintet for piano and winds, Francis Poulenc’s Sextet for piano and winds, Julio Medaglia’s South American dance suite “La Belle Epoch in Sud-America” for wind quintet, and Australian music by Kristofer Spike.

The musicians of Sirius Chamber Ensemble will also conduct an afternoon workshop for our students to be held in Singleton.

Saturday 27 July
Workshop: TBA
Concert: 5:00pm
Singleton Sacred Space Reception Room
Tickets: $20 Adult $15 Concession

Address
'The Convent'
Corner of Brook and Sowerby Streets, Muswellbrook
(enter via Brook St/ Catholic Church carpark)
Postal Address
PO Box 816 Muswellbrook NSW 2333 
Telephone
(02) 6541 4888
Fax
(02) 6541 4999

Website  
http://www.uhcm.com.au  
Email
uhcm@hunterlink.net.au

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Queenstown Voted One of World's Top Destinations on Trip Advisor

Queenstown, New Zealand - Queenstown has been named one of the world’s Top 25 Travellers’ Choice Destinations by TripAdvisor, the world’s largest online travel community.

As well as rising to 25th place on the international list, the four season lake and alpine resort was also named best destination in New Zealand and second best in the South Pacific.

The Travellers’ Choice Destinations awards honour top travel spots worldwide based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from TripAdvisor travellers. Award winners were determined based on the popularity of destinations, taking into account travellers’ favourites and most highly rated places.

Destination Queenstown CEO Graham Budd was delighted with award and said it was a fantastic international achievement for the resort.

“We’re aware of the power of Trip Advisor in influencing the travelling community, so the news that Queenstown has been ranked by millions of travellers worldwide alongside cities like Paris, New York and London is a testament to the quality of our operators and the exceptional travel experience they deliver.”

The cosmopolitan resort town, famous for its spectacular scenery and huge range of world-class experiences, has previously earned international accolades from other travel authorities such as Lonely Planet, Condé Naste and National Geographic.

For the complete list of 2013 Travellers’ Choice Destinations winners, go to http://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Destinations.

For more information about Queenstown please visit www.queenstownNZ.co.nz.

Top 25 Travellers’ Choice World Destinations:

(+/- denotes change in ranking year-over-year, 0 is no change and new is new to the top 25)
1. Paris, France (+3)
2. New York City, New York (0)
3. London, England (-2)
4. Rome, Italy (-1)
5. Barcelona, Spain (+3)
6. Venice, Italy (New)
7. San Francisco, California (-2)
8. Florence, Italy (+4)
9. Prague, Czech Republic (+7)
10. Sydney, Australia (+4)
11. Berlin, Germany (-1)
12. Istanbul, Turkey (-5)
13. Bangkok, Thailand (New)
14. Chicago, Illinois (-3)
15. Tokyo, Japan (New)
16. Cape Town, South Africa (+7)
17. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (New)
18. Buenos Aires, Argentina (-5)
19. Marrakech, Morocco (-13)
20. St. Petersburg, Russia (New)
21. Beijing, China (-6)
22. Shanghai, China (-3)
23. Siem Reap, Cambodia (-14)
24. Chiang Mai, Thailand (0)
25. Queenstown, New Zealand (New)

Friday, 24 May 2013

Radius Percussion in the Upper Hunter

James Townsend & Adam Wills
Following the tradition established in 2011, 2013 will also see a schools concert tour and two public concerts presented by one section of the Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music.

UHCM Director Adam Wills will join with fellow percussionist James Townsend to form Radius Percussion,  a dynamic percussion duo that will undertake a week-long tour performing at schools throughout the Upper Hunter and the presentation of public concerts at Merriwa and Scone. The concerts will feature a wide variety of music, including some familiar tunes and some new music composed for the duo.

School Tour

Commences week commencing Monday 22 July.  For bookings or further information please contact the UHCM office.

Concert 1
Wednesday 24 July
7:00pm
Merriwa School of Arts

Concert 2
Friday 26 July
7:00pm
Scone High School Hall

Tickets: $20 Adults $15 Concession

 

Address
'The Convent'
Corner of Brook and Sowerby Streets, Muswellbrook
(enter via Brook St/ Catholic Church carpark)
Postal Address
PO Box 816 Muswellbrook NSW 2333 
Telephone
(02) 6541 4888
Fax
(02) 6541 4999

Website  
http://www.uhcm.com.au  
Email
uhcm@hunterlink.net.au

Excite your Senses with a Visit to the Largest Musical Instrument in the World - The Bell Tower, Home of the Swan Bells

See, hear and touch ancient bells at The Bell Tower and awaken your senses in way you that you cannot do anywhere else in the world.

Nestled in the stunning and historic Barrack Square in Perth, Western Australia, this iconic building was opened in the year 2000 as a Millennium Project. It provides a rare opportunity for visitors to see and hear the ancient art of Change Ringing - a 400 year old tradition. Volunteer bell ringers display their craft at scheduled times each day and also conduct hands-on demonstrations for guests. This is an incredibly unique experience and one that leaves guests breathless with the joy of knowing they have done something they cannot do anywhere else in the world.

The Towers bells consist of twelve 240 year old bells from St Martin-in-the Fields Church in London and is the only peal of Royal bells known to have left England. The bells incredible history includes being rung to signal the end of one of the most significant European battles, the Battle of Trafalgar. The bells were again rung at Lord Nelson's funeral.

An additional six bells were added including two gifted from the City of London complete the ring of eighteen - one of the largest in the world.

The Bell Tower boasts an amazing collection of historic bells and clocks that includes the oldest bell in Australia, a 450 year old bell that was originally from the tower of a parish church at Upton Grey in Hampshire. It was one of four that were hung in approximately 1550AD. Weighing an incredible 459kg, the bell has been on display since 2010 and is openly accessible for visitors to photograph.

Wandering higher into the Tower visitors will discover the steel walkway on the Observation Deck where they can enjoy the splendour of 360 degree views. They can also experience the delightful melody of the electronic Carillon, the first of its kind in the world that plays play's national anthems from around the planet.

The Tower also offers visitors the opportunity to record a video postcard to send to family and friends through YouTube channel and Facebook.

Visitors to Perth should not miss the chance to discover the magic of the largest musical instrument in the world at The Bell Tower, Home of the Swan Bells.

www.thebelltower.com.au 

Inti Raymi - The Inca Festival of the Sun

The Winter Solstice in the southern hemisphere and the local harvests are the driving force behind the greatest, most majestic pre-Hispanic ceremony to render homage to the sun. Today, the Inti Raymi festival evokes the splendid Inca ritual of yore, being carefully scripted by Cuzco professors, archaeologists and historians. The central event is acted out on the esplanade below the imposing fortress of Sacsayhuamán, 2 km (1 mille) outside the city of Cuzco, easily reached by car or on foot. There, step by step, thousands of actors enact a long ceremony giving thanks to the sun god, Inti. The Inca ruler is borne on a royal litter from the Koricancha. or Temple of the Sun to the Huacaypat, the city's main square, where he commands the local authorities to govern fairly.

Then all the participants set out for Sacsayhuamán, where the ceremony calls for the sacrifice of two llamas. one black and one white. The llamas entrails and fat are handed to a pair of high priests: the first. the Callpa Ricuy, examines the intestines to predict what sort of year lies ahead; while the second priest the Wupariruj, makes his predictions based on the smoke that wafts up from the burning fat. The high priests' predictions are then interpreted by the Willac Umo, the lord hig priest who bears the news to the Inca. Finally, at sunset, the Inca orders all to withdraw from the site, and the entire city breaks out into festivities that will rage for several days.

When:  June 24
Where: Cuzco
More information: Peru Tourism Bureau - Email  info@visitperu.com

VIVID SYDNEY: LIGHTS ON 6PM TONIGHT!

With the biggest ever Vivid Light Walk set to illuminate the Sydney Harbour foreshore, tonight Friday 24 May, exploring the new sights and sounds of Vivid Sydney 2013 has just got easier, thanks to a brand new, free Vivid Sydney app. In addition, a free Vivid Sydney Harbour Shuttle ferry service is on offer from Destination NSW, to take the public from Walsh Bay to North Sydney to light the Harbour Bridge, then onto Darling Harbour for Aquatique international water and lazer light spectacular.

Every night from 6pm, Friday 24 May to Monday 10 June 2013, Vivid Sydney is set to amaze visitors with more than 60 interactive light installations and projections across Circular Quay, The Rocks, Walsh Bay, and new for this year - the western side of the Harbour Bridge at North Sydney, Fort Denison, and in an Australian first, water theatre performances at Darling Harbour, by Vivid Aquatique, every hour on the hour of different shows.

Available for download now, the Vivid Sydney app includes an interactive map with points of interest, information about the projections, light installations and artists; and special features including a ‘favourites’ function that highlights ‘not to be missed’ installations to help planning for the best Vivid Sydney experience. For more information and to download the app please visit www.vividsydney.com

A freeVivid Sydney Harbour Shuttle ferry service will operate between Kirribilli, Walsh Bay and Darling Harbour from 6pm-midnight every night of the 18-day event, providing an easy way to reach North Sydney to paint the Sydney Harbour Bridge, or travel to Darling Harbour for the spectacular Vivid Aquatique water show.

“Vivid Sydney is a fantastic, free, family-friendly event, and with more attractions than ever on offer," said Destination NSW CEO, Sandra Chipchase.

“With the new Vivid Sydney free app and free harbour shuttle, festivalgoers can plan ahead to get the most out of their Vivid Sydney experience.”

“There are also great dining options with food markets, formal and family dining across the Vivid Sydney footprint and everyone can access event updates and news on the Vivid Sydney website, plus Facebook and Twitter accounts,” Ms Chipchase added.

Food with a view

North Sydney’s Food and Artisan Markets will bring Bradfield Park to life from 6pm each Friday and Saturday night during Vivid Sydney, with premium arts and crafts stalls, street theatre, warming winter fare and colourful LED cube seats to sit back and enjoy the best view on earth. The markets are located under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, en route from Luna Park to the Jeffrey Street Wharf and ferry service.

There are plenty of other dining options with views of the illuminated harbour foreshore including Dinner DeLIGHTS at Fort Denison, which offers a sumptuous two-course dinner accompanied by talks from Vivid Sydney light artists, and a guided tour of the historic island which features five light walk installations. The Vivid Night Markets at The Rocks are also on every Friday and Saturday night during Vivid Sydney.
Restaurants along Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Quarter and Harbourside will give diners not only fantastic menu choices but also a perfect view of Vivid Aquatique, the water theatre by Aquatique Show International, playing on the hour throughout the night.

Darling Harbour will also feature a Citibank Pop-up Bar, open from 6pm to midnight during Vivid Sydney.

Not to be missed highlights of Vivid Sydney 2013 include:

- Vivid Aquatique and Darling Harbour: Vivid Aquatique is a dazzling water theatre show with fountains, pyramids and projections amazing audiences on the hour, every hour, spectacularly choreographed to music. The Australian National Maritime Museum, Pyrmont Bridge and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Headquarters will also feature light displays.

- Colour the Bridge: Visitors are invited to light the Sydney Harbour Bridge from an interactive touchscreen at Luna Park in collaboration between Intel Australia and 32 Hundred Lighting, and the bustling night markets at Bradfield Park every Friday and Saturday evening will ensure that North Sydney has plenty on offer.

- Lighting the Sails: The world famous lighting of the Sydney Opera House sails have this year been designed by Australian creative innovators The Spinifex Group, who will transport audiences through a playfully projected journey celebrating Vivid Sydney in an immersive new way.

- Vivid Light: More than 60 interactive and immersive light sculptures and installations across Circular Quay, The Rocks, Walsh Bay, Darling Harbour and North Sydney. City skyscrapers will light up along with 3D mapped projections on Customs House, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, and Cadman’s Cottage.

- Vivid Idea: With over 120 creative industry and public events exploring fashion, design, theatre, film, photography, publishing, gaming, animation, music, technology, lighting, architecture, education and even gastronomy, Vivid Ideas will connect Australia’s creative thinkers with global leaders and industry talents.

- The Vivid Ideas Exchange: Back again at the Museum of Contemporary Art, it features talks by renowned comedic visual artist and cult icon David Shrigley (UK) and Lucky Peach editor Chris Ying (USA), as well as two signature programs, 10 Commandments of Creative Practice and The Making Of…, at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

- Vivid LIVE at Sydney Opera House: Featuring over 25 events, this year’s line-up includes the world premiere of Australian outfit, Empire of the Sun’s much-anticipated second album Ice On The Dune, and several Sydney exclusive performances by international and local artists including German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk and r’n’b soul legend Bobby Womack.

- Vivid Music: Featuring Terminal Projekt at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Illuminati at the Argyle in The Rocks, Vivid at Seymour’s two-day program of arts-based experimental and improvised music at The Seymour Centre, and a program of sound art performances at ISEA2013 at Carriagework.

In addition, visitors can enjoy event collaborations with Australian International Design Festival, The Digital Playground by IDEA Australia, International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) 2013, Semi-Permanent, Sydney Writers’ Festival, Reportage Photography Festival,SPARC International Lighting Event, Sydney Film Festival, X|Media|Lab, Mumbrella360, AMPlify, Head On Photography Festival and CeBIT Australia.

The full Vivid Sydney program is available at www.vividsydney.com

Transport information

- A free Vivid Sydney Harbour Shuttle loops between Ives Steps Wharf (Walsh Bay) to Jeffrey Street Wharf (Kirribilli) to Pyrmont Bay Wharf (Pyrmont) and Towns Place Wharf (Walsh Bay). The ferry loop operates from 6pm each night during Vivid Sydney with final services at approximately midnight. The regular service departs from each wharf every 40 minutes with increased services between 8pm and 10pm. The first ferry departs from Ives Steps Wharf at 6pm.

- Harbour City Ferries will be operating additional services will be on the Darling Harbour Loop and the River from Sydney Olympic Park to Darling Harbour on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. For timetable details, please visit www.sydneyferries.info

- All Vivid Sydney precincts are within walking distance of Sydney Central Business District and North Sydney train stations – Circular Quay, Wynyard, Town Hall, Martin Place and Milsons Point.

- Utilise the extensive network of public buses, metro bus services provide direct cross-city and cross-harbour links to a wide range of locations in and around Sydney.

- Wilson Parking is offering convenient parking and great deals throughout the 18 days of Vivid Sydney. Pre-book your parking online to take advantage of parking discounts with Wilson Parking’s, Book a Bay.

App and Podcast information

The Vivid Sydney app is compatible with all smart phones. For more information and to download the free app visit the iTunes store or head to www.vividsydney.com

Podcasts are also available for download from the 702 ABC Sydney website to guide you through the light walk and provide additional sculpture information.

An information booth is located at Customs House, on Alfred Street at Circular Quay. An LED pillar close to this location also displays a site map and artwork details.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Disneyland...The Happiest Place on Earth!

With over 50 years carrying the title of 'the happiest place on earth', I finally fulfilled my childhood dream and ventured into a world full of fantasy. I had always longed to meet my favourite Disney princesses, go inside Cinderella's castle, try out the rides and food, and check out the parade and shows. But would it live up to its name?

As such a Disney fanatic, even at 21 years of age I could not contain my excitement as I walked through the entry gate, classic Disney orchestral music playing, and saw the giant Mickey Mouse flowerbed ahead. With so many happy people and children around you all filled with the same excitement, I would challenge anyone to walk through the entrance and not have a beaming smile on your face, coupled with a bountiful urge to skip or do cartwheels! Walking down the main street past all the themed shops and food stalls, onward to the various 'lands', my first impressions of Disneyland had definitely lived up to my expectations. I had the same butterfly feelings as when I was a little girl imagining myself here, getting so excited as I experienced the true wonders of this magical world.

Disneyland and California Adventure Park are both included in your ticket, you can go in and out of each, which are just across from each other all day. Disneyland has the more classic Disney themes and lands including Main Street USA, Toontown, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, Adventureland and Critter Country. Whereas California Adventure Park is based more on the modern Pixar films including Buena Vista Street, Paradise Pier, Grizzly Peak, Condor Flats, Hollywood Land, Pacific Wharf, A Bug's Land and Cars Land. There are ample amounts of rides for children and the whole family to enjoy, with an obvious huge budget where no expense is spared. Any age can enjoy the array of various worlds brought to life in each ride. Of course there are also enough larger, faster, higher, scarier rides for the adrenaline junkies to thrive off! Being mid-season when I visited in September, I could not complain about the line-ups for rides, which were mostly no longer than 20 minutes each. The larger rides were longer, up to 60 minutes however with the use of 'fast passes' this wait was dramatically reduced to about 10 minutes. I could not fault the staff either, always happy to help and their customer service displayed the true Disney happiness no matter what they were doing.

The longest wait was to meet the Disney princesses,which is well worth it! I did this twice to meet them all. They really take on their character and relate everything they are saying to their Disney story. Arial told me my eyes were as blue as the crystal sea. You can meet 3 of the favourite Disney princesses at once by lining up and they rotate every hour between Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Ariel, Tiana, Jasmine and Mulan. However you will only be given a minute or two with each to have a chat and get a photo or autograph before you are shuffled to the next! You just have to be lucky to meet other characters with shorter lines. I found Cinderella near her castle, Pluto outside his home in Toontown and Mickey and Minnie in various places around Main Street. Just keep walking around and you will find them.It took me four full days to get a photo with each character but is well worth it.

The entertainment is enough in itself to keep everyone happy and delighted! With a full schedule each day, you could just go from one show to another. I highly recommend the Aladdin musical, which is so professionally put together you would pay Broadway prices to see it! The lighting spectacular is a wondrous show of fountains and coloured lights, combined with holograms of different Disney movie scenes and their soundtracks. Definitely worth getting a good position for, this show will truly enchant and take you to another world of fantasy. It is impossible to describe the effect of these elements and the amazing atmosphere they created, an experience I will never forget.

Food choices are vast, with classic 'burger and fries' everywhere as well as themed restaurants in each land ranging from family to fine dining, including options to dine with the characters for an extra price. That's if you ever stop and make time to eat!

Accommodation options are also endless. There are of course the various Disney themed hotels, however for just as much convenience and a fraction of the price, we stayed at the Holiday Inn & Suites, Anaheim. A "Disneyland Good Neighbour Hotel", this superbly located accommodation adjacent to Disneyland is just a 15 minute walk through downtown Disneyland, the shopping precinct. It offers deluxe rooms, suites and family rooms, all with flat screen TVs, private bathrooms and expected amenities. With a fully equipped gym, pool, spa, restaurant and always helpful and knowledgeable staff, your Disneyland adventure is truly taken care of. Tickets can be organised, maps provided and all interests catered for, even if your stay is for business at the Convention Centre or if you want to explore more of what Anaheim has to offer. Being greeted each day by the smiley reception staff and featured Disney toys around the lobby ensures your stay can be magical 24 hours a day. Disney movies are even played on a large projector by the pool each night, so parents can relax in the spa while the children (or children on the inside!) can lay in or by the pool and continue to be mesmerised by Disney fantasies.

What better way to finish off long days in Disneyland than with a cocktail by the pool, then climbing into the ever-so comfortable beds to rest and recuperate for another day of adventures. Dreaming of the fantasy worlds, then waking and realising I had another day in 'the happiest place on earth' immediately put a smile on my face each morning as I climbed out of bed, dressed in my colourful Disney gear (ears included!) and took the stroll back to what I can only describe as all of my childhood dreams in one place, the 'Happiest Place on earth'. I would return in a heartbeat to experience that indescribable feeling of excitement and wonder I challenge anyone not to feel, as you explore the magical lands.

*Written by Sarah Llewelyn, who was a guest at Disneyland and California Adventure Park last year and whose accommodation was provided courtesy of Holiday Inn & Suites, Anaheim.

Brisbane's Largest Tourism Campaign to Reach New Zealand

Brisbane’s new autumn/winter tourism campaign will be the largest to date with its reach spreading interstate and to New Zealand, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane Graham Quirk has said.

Cr Quirk said the $2 million Brisbane Marketing-led campaign, aimed to lure visitors to our sub-tropical climate during the cooler months, with a host of great events including Bolshoi Ballet, Brisbane Racing Carnival and the British & Irish Lions matches.

“Brisbane Marketing will be working in partnership with Tourism and Events Queensland, Virgin Australia, Emirates, Accor and 71 other industry partners to deliver the largest, longest and most far reaching winter campaign to date,” Cr Quirk said.

“The campaign is expected to generate more than $54 million in economic impact and attract more than 332,000 attendees to Brisbane events over the autumn and winter months.

“It has increased its traditional intrastate focus to include the regional fly-markets of north Queensland as well as Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand.

“New Zealand is Brisbane’s top international source market so it makes sense for Brisbane Marketing to work with Tourism and Events Queensland and the industry to extend our presence in this important market.”

The campaign has been boosted by $833,000 in contributions from surrounding local government authorities and the Queensland Government under the Regional Tourism Organisation Contestable Grant Funding Scheme 2012-13.

Cr Quirk said as Council of Mayors (SEQ) Chairman, he was pleased at the strength of the partnership between Brisbane and the surrounding local authorities as well as the widespread participation of local industry and the support of the Queensland Government.

Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey said the initiative was also funded as part of the Government’s $20 million Tourism Investment Strategy, aimed to support destination marketing and drive more visitors to Queensland.

“Tourism and events are intrinsically linked and this campaign will deliver economic and social benefits to the entire community,” Ms Stuckey said.

“Brisbane has a very exciting calendar of events scheduled over the winter months, add this to our enviable climate and we expect this campaign to deliver great results for our capital city.

“Last year Brisbane welcomed six million visitors to the city who spent more than $4.5 billion on visits, according to Tourism Research Australia data.”

Brisbane Marketing CEO John Aitken said the campaign would showcase the distinctive experiences available in the city as well as the surrounds of Moreton Bay, Logan City, Lockyer Valley, Ipswich City, Redlands, Somerset and the Scenic Rim.

“Competitive air fares to Brisbane will be offered from Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns which will be combined with great local deals from our tourism operators in the region,” he said.

“It’s a great example of what can be achieved by working in partnership with state and local government and industry. We’re particularly pleased with the high level of industry participation in what will be our longest and most far-reaching campaign to date.

“The campaign includes television, radio, digital and newspaper ads and inserts, billboards and transit advertising underpinned by a strong public relations campaign.”

Visit www.visitbrisbane.com.au for more information.

Vivid Light Walk

Tread lightly. Let the Vivid Light Walk guide you through all the fantastic displays from Fort Dennison all the way through the Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, The Rocks, Walsh Bay and Darling Harbour.

Once again, Vivid Sydney takes you on a magical journey through an amazing world of colour, design and cutting edge technology that’s free, very family-friendly and staged every night from 6pm to midnight on the shores of Sydney Harbour from 24 May to 10 June.

The Vivid footprint extends this year to include Fort Denison, the Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, The Rocks, Walsh Bay and Darling Harbour.

The Vivid journey starts at Fort Denison and continues on the western boardwalk of Sydney Opera House where a series of stunning projections transform the famous sails with a medley of light projection, video mapping and motion graphics. From here, a series of interactive and immersive light art sculptures and installations paves the way. Some have a message, some are pure fun, most are interactive. Either way it’s an engaging, colourful, startling and beautiful way to experience Sydney Harbour on a winters night beneath the stars.

On the Circular Quay promenade, Bucky Bulb is hard to miss; a huge, old-fashioned light bulb is criss-crossed with translucent tubes, pulsating with colourful LED lights. At Morphic Mirror marvel at your reflection as its shimmers and shifts your rapid movements will induce waves that rippling across the mirror’s surface. From this vantage point, you can see the Colours of Vivid splashed across the CBD and skyscraper buildings of the Sydney Harbour foreshore.

Head along George Street in The Rocks to discover the cobblestone laneways of Sydney’s historic precinct filled with interactive installations such as Human Effect; as you approach, a beautiful “garden” appears to be growing in a laneway, only to wilt and slowly die before your eyes. On Friday and Saturday nights, shop and eat under the stars at the Vivid Night Markets in Jack Mundy Place, Playfair and George streets.

The Electric Canvas returns to VIVID in 2013 with an engaging interactive projection at Cadman’s Cottage. Using a large touch screen, people of all ages can create their own architectural projection. With a variety of themes, tools and pallets the participant is able to select different architectural regions and then apply textures and animations to the cottage in real time. At the conclusion of each timed session, a photo of each artwork is pushed to a Twitter account where the pictures can be viewed, downloaded or retweeted.

Make your way to Campbell’s Cove in The Rocks where you’ll discover the Enlightened Piano, a grand piano set on a small stage. Whether you’re a professional musician or an amateur, you’ll be able to create a piece of music that produces a unique light pattern – under the stars by Sydney Harbour. Further on, take a ride on the We See Saw where a LED screen lights up in your own individual colour scheme with each bounce of the see-saw. At the Nocturnal Pianola, you can play a free-standing piano keyboard and watch in awe as the keys light up in a spectrum of fabulous colours.

Continue around to Walsh Bay and discover Sydney’s newest arts precinct where there are more stunning installations. At Polka Kucha, generate your own unique experience of space, light and colour – by simply turning a wheel. Get a feel for this historic precinct through Walsh Bay Whispers when all your senses are engaged in a discovery of the past. You can even imagine what the rat plague of 1900 was like with Rats, capturing the chaos through sound, light and interactive elements on land and in the water.

Where: Sydney Harbour foreshore from Sydney Opera House to Walsh Bay

When: 24 May - 10 Jun 6:00 pm - Midnight 
Price: Free 
 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Australia's Richest People Revealed in 2013 BRW RICH 200

  • Gina Rinehart remains the richest Australian – topping the 2013 BRW Rich 200.
  • # 2 is Frank Lowy, and # 3 James Packer.
  • Total wealth of the Rich 200 is down $4.4 billion to $176.8 billion but when Rinehart is excluded, total wealth rises by $2.7 billion to $154.8 billion.
  • The average wealth per person on the Rich 200 has fallen to $884 million, down from $906 million last year.
  • Cut-off rises $25 million to $235 million.
  • Chinese-based property developer Hui Wing Mau debuts at 7th spot on the list with a $4.82 billion fortune.
  • 14 women make the cut-off for 2013 BRW Rich 200. Therese Rein drops off after debuting last year.

After riding the resources boom into the top spots of the Rich 200, the country’s mining magnates have taken hits to their wealth in 2013 and allowed some BRW Rich List veterans to take starring roles in the 30th anniversary edition of the BRW Rich 200.

The biggest fall has been felt by the richest Australian of all time: Gina Rinehart.  Rinehart retains her firm grip on the top spot despite the fall in her wealth to $22.02 billion from $29.17 billion last year.

All of the five biggest falls on the 2013 BRW Rich 200 (on both dollar value and proportional bases) are from the mining sector.

Among them are Fortescue Metals Group’s Andrew Forrest, who is down $2.23 billion to $3.66 billion and political aspirant Clive Palmer, down to $2.2 billion from $3.85 last year.

“It’s been a tough year for the miners, with falling commodity prices and concerns about the Chinese economy weighing heavily,” Rich 200 editor Andrew Heathcote said.

“But strong equity markets have allowed some of the best-known members of the list to boost their fortunes and regain some ground on the miners.”

A former number one, Frank Lowy, moves from third last year to second on the 2013 BRW Rich 200 after gaining about $400 million. His $6.87 billion valuation is underpinned by some modest growth at his shopping centre business Westfield Group.

One of the big movers on this year’s BRW Rich 200 is James Packer. His wealth has risen to $6 billion from $5.21 billion on the back of strong growth in his gambling interests taking him to the #3 spot.

Anthony Pratt has had another good year at #4 on the BRW Rich 200. The family-owned flagship business Visy continues to achieve strong results here and Pratt’s US-based box making business Pratt Industries is growing quickly. 

Last year’s number two, Ivan Glasenberg – CEO of Glencore Xstrata – falls to fifth spot on the BRW Rich 200 this year. His wealth is down to $5.61 billion from $7.40 billion last year.

Thirty-year list veteran Harry Triguboff has boosted his wealth to $4.95 billion from $4.85 billion last year.  He is ranked #6.

The highest ranked debutant this year is Chinese-based property developer Hui Wing Mau whose $4.82 billion fortune pushes him into 7th position on the 2013 BRW Rich 200. Mau is chairman of the Hong Kong-listed Shimao Group and has built a property empire on the back of China’s property boom.
Hui Wing Mau is reflective of a growing trend on the Rich 200. 

“The 30th Rich 200 provides an opportunity to look back at how the list has changed and one of the clear trends is that Australian wealth has become more global,” Heathcote says.

“There are 16 members of the list based overseas and, as always, the Rich 200 features many great migrant stories, with members who were born in Nepal, China, Malaysia and throughout Europe.”

John Singleton, whose ugly spat with horse trainer Gai Waterhouse has created weeks of headlines, has finally got some good news. He is up $35 million on last year to $355 million and #135 on BRW’s Rich 200.

The most notable departure from this year’s list is Nathan Tinkler. This year, he falls below the $235 million cut-off for the Rich 200.

There are 14 women on this year’s Rich 200. Yenda Lee, from the Bing Lee retail empire, joins the BRW Rich 200 after previously appearing on BRW’s Rich 50 Families list.
In the 30th anniversary year, BRW’s editorial team reviewed the combined list of brilliant business people – 977 names – who have qualified for the Rich 200 over the past three decades to choose the greatest entrepreneur: Kerry Stokes. 

Best known for his role as chairman of the Seven Network, Stokes is one of only 19 business people to feature on every list since 1984, when his personal wealth was estimated at $30 million. Today, he has a business empire worth an estimated $2.47 billion and the title of Australia’s 12th richest person.
He stands out not just for his incredible rags-to-riches story, but for his ability to pick two of the great trends in Australian wealth in the last three decades: media and mining.

This year, BRW has also compiled the top “30 moments from the past 30 years” of the Rich 200. Kerry Packer features prominently; he dominated the list for many years and built the basis of a family fortune that continues to feature prominently. 

Top of the “30 Moments List” is Packer selling his Channel Nine stations to Alan Bond in 1987 before regaining control three years later. It was a moment that spawned one of the most memorable lines in the history of Australian business: “You only get one Alan Bond in your lifetime.”

Top 5 Rich in Australia
     NAME                         WEALTH      INDUSTRY
 1) Gina Rinehart              $22.02 b       Resources
 2) Frank Lowy                 $ 7.40 b        Property
 3) James Packer             $6.00 b         Gambling, investment 
 4) Anthony Pratt & family $5.95 b         Manufacturing, investment
 5) Ivan Glasenberg           $5.61 b         Resources

   Residences of Top 200 Rich in Australia
STATE
NUMBER
New South Wales
61
Victoria
52
Queensland
28
Western Australia
19
Overseas
16
South Australia
6
Tasmania
2
Australian Capital Territory
1


 

IT&CM China 2013 Advances Its Position As The Leading International MICE Event in China

This year’s event has surpassed the show’s previous 6 instalments, making it the most successful in IT&CM China’s 7-year history. And by success, organisers TTG Events, CITS International M.I.C.E. and MP International have many indicators to go by.

First, IT&CM China 2013 is the largest and most diverse show, with an attendance of 3,000 MICE professionals from sectors including DMCs, PCOs, corporate travel and associations, including some 400 hosted delegates. Over 10,000 business appointments were conducted with more than 60 business, education and networking sessions featured during the 3 day event. IT&CM China was also the anchor event of Shanghai Business Events Week held from 14 to 19 April, which provided 8 other business, education and networking activities for delegates.

Next, delegates’ affirmation proved that IT&CM China made the right moves to enhance the value and quality of this year’s event:
  • Over 85% of exhibitors expect orders from IT&CM China 2013 buyers over the next 6 to 12 months
  • Order volumes are expected to reach as high as above USD 1 million for selected exhibitors
  • Over 90% of buyers gave top scores to the quality of exhibitors
  • Over 86% of buyers gave top scores to the quality of their business appointments.
  • Over 80% of buyers felt that IT&CM China 2013 surpassed other similar events in terms of Quality of Exhibitors, Quality of Business Matching, Potential Business Generated, Networking Opportunities and being a Must-Attend Event. Among the new initiatives that gave IT&CM China 2013 a significant boost was the larger mix of Chinese buyers (65% Chinese – 35% International) as well as a greater proportion of Corporate Travel buyers and Association buyers from across China and around the world. The 1.24 buyers: 1 exhibiting company ratio was also considered ideal.
Exhibitor Vichaya Soonthornsaratoon, Director of Meetings Industry Department, of Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau expressed satisfaction with this year’s buyer profile. “China is now the top three MICE markets of Thailand and we believe this trend will continue due to China’s strong economic performance. IT&CM China is definitely a trade show to tap into rising opportunities in the Chinese market. It is also a perfect platform to showcase our new destinations, like Chiang Mai, to buyers in China.”

“We are proud that our efforts to engage more of China’s buying powers to attend IT&CM China have paid off. While Corporate Travel and Association buying is still a relatively new concept for the Chinese, we are confident that IT&CM China will be a significant market force in changing this, by providing the industry with education, networking and business exposure” said Chen Yueliang, Vice-President of China International Travel Service (CITS) Limited, Head Office. CITS is the parent company of CITS International M.I.C.E. that co-organises IT&CM China.

Another first was that exhibitors and buyers were able to schedule 100% of their appointments prior to the show via the Pre-Scheduled Appointment and Online Diary facilities. More than 90% of exhibitors took advantage of the new online diary facility, with over 60% of exhibitors achieving 80% completed schedules 10 days before the event.

In collaboration with industry partner MCI Group, the inaugural Association Day and Corporate Travel Forum on 18 and 19 April respectively drew a full audience, especially the attendance of both Association and Corporate Travel buyers. Each day featured a keynote address and forums by reputed experts in the respective fields including MCI Group, American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE), Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE), American Express Meetings & Events, MasterCard Worldwide and Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

“IT&CM China improves greatly each year and provides a good mix of exhibitors and quality appointments. I look forward to 2014!” praised buyer Anthony Jepson, General Manager of Conference Venues and Booking Services, Australia.

“We are extremely satisfied with this year’s results. The show’s new initiatives have proved a hit among delegates, while achieving its objectives of bringing IT&CM China 2013 to the next level. The industry can look forward to an even more compelling IT&CM China 2014 from 15 to 17 April” said Darren Ng, Managing Director of TTG Asia Media. TTG Events, co-organisers of IT&CM China is a business group of TTG Asia Media.

The success of IT&CM China 2013 has also led to encouraging one-year advance booth bookings for the 2014 event, with buyer and media registrations already pouring in. First time exhibitor Haruhiko Sakano, Manager from Inbound Business JTB Global Business Unit Headquarters who has also secured his space for IT&CM China 2014, remarked, “We believe by consistently participating in the exhibition, we will be able to strengthen our presence in the Chinese market. Our appointments matched not only with the Chinese clients but also in other Asian regions. This is a good opportunity for us to expand our sales channels.”

Top 25 Best Jobs in the World - Queensland Park Rangers Announced

A biologist, actor, graphic designer, photographer, ecologist and comedian are among the top 25 candidates for Queensland's Best Job in the World 'Park Ranger' position.

Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games Jann Stuckey said the top 25 candidates for the Queensland job came from 14 countries across the globe including the US, France, Kazakhstan, the UK, Germany, Finland, South Africa, Italy, Hong Kong, Netherlands Antilles, Spain, Canada, Belgium and Australia.

"More than 100,000 expressions of interest were received for Queensland's Best Job in the World 'Park Ranger' position, with almost 10,000 video applications uploaded for consideration by the judges," Ms Stuckey said. "The large amount of interest in the Queensland job demonstrates the state's appeal as a tourism destination amongst international youth travellers."

Best Jobs in the World is a Tourism Australia campaign targeting global youth travellers, involving six of the country's state and territory tourism organisations including Tourism and Events Queensland.

Ms Stuckey said each State and territory was offering a "Best Job in the World" as a prize.

"I understand Tourism Australia's assessors had a tough time determining the top 25 short-list and it came down to the motivation, professionalism and creativity of the applicants and their 'fit' for the 'Park Ranger' job," she said. "The top 25 short-listed video applications feature everything from action, adventure, comedy and even animation and are online at - www.australia.com/bestjobs.

"The candidates will now be tasked with demonstrating why they deserve the job, sourcing supportive job references and publicity to support their applications."

Ms Stuckey said the successful candidate for Queensland's Best Job in the World, 'Park Ranger' would work alongside experienced guides and tourism operators to showcase the State's natural assets to the world through blogging, photography and social media activities.

"Queensland boasts hundreds of national and marine parks, with amazing nature-based tourism experiences. The successful candidate will have enviable tasks such as exploring the underwater wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef and learning from the custodians of the world's oldest rainforest," she said.

The top 25 will be narrowed down to a final shortlist of three candidates who will travel to Queensland to take part in the final selection process.

The successful candidate will be announced on 21 June 2013.

For further information on the campaign including applications and timelines, visit www.australia.com/bestjobs.

What's NEW at Thailand Travel Mart 2013 Plus

The Thailand Travel Mart 2013 Plus (TTM+2013) to be held between June 5-7, 2013, will break new ground with two first-time events: the participation of Yunnan Provincial Tourism Administration and the introduction of debates to the Travel Forum.

Both will help expand the quality of participation in Thailand’s largest business to business event, and also raise the level of intellectual discussion to a new high.

The Yunnan Provincial Tourism Administration has a registered a team of 26 delegates to participate in TTM+. This is a very important step forward as the TTM+ is designed to showcase the exciting tourism products of the entire Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) which includes Yunnan province of China, Myanmar, Laos PDR, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Yunnan is located in the lower Southwestern part of China and shares a long border with Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. It is also close to Thailand, Bangladesh and Bhutan, making it an important gateway to Southeast and South Asia. Yunnan’s 16 prefectures and municipalities have a total population of 44 million, including 25 minority groups. Its capital is Kunming.

Yunnan’s unique tourist attractions include magnificent snow mountains and glaciers in the north, vast tropical rain forests in the south that are homes to rare fauna and flora species, the meandering and roaring “Three Rivers On Parallel” in the west, the spectacular karst landforms in the east and volcanoes in the southwest.

In recent years, it has seen a significant development of infrastructure and transportation networks. Kunming Changshui International Airport is now the fifth largest airport in China, with connections to 10 cities within Yunnan Province, 60 cities within China and 14 international cities, such as Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Osaka, Seoul, Yangon, Vientiane, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Siem Reap, Mandalay, Dhaka, etc.

The emergence of road and rail links, including the Asian Highway and the Trans Asian Railway, will also enhance its connections with Bangkok, Lashio (Myanmar) and Hanoi (Vietnam). River navigation along the Mekong is also on the rise. All this will make Yunnan a very important point on the tour package circuit.

On 28 April 2012, TAT and China (Yunnan) signed a memorandum of understanding on promoting the flow of tourists between the two countries.

As for the concept of debate, it has been incorporated into the forum for Buyers and Sellers on the topics “Creative Travel” and “DIY Tourism.”

The first Keynote session on the topic “Changing destination perceptions through creative travel” by Professor Greg Richards, will be followed by a debate on the topic: “Bangkok needs repositioning through creative tourism techniques and implementation.”

Based in Barcelona, Prof. Richards is Professor of Leisure Studies at the University of Tilburg and Professor of Events at Breda University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands. He has worked on projects for numerous national governments, national tourism organizations and municipalities, and he has extensive experience in tourism research and education, with previous posts at London Metropolitan University (UK), Universitat Roviria I Virgili, Tarragona (Spain) and the University of the West of England (Bristol, UK).

The second Keynote session on the topic “DIY in tourism: Dynamic Packaging, the pros and the cons” by Mr. Frank Oostdam, will be followed by a debate on the topic: “dynamic packaging will become the tourist’s preferred option of buying holidays”.

Frank Oostdam is chairman of the ANVR, the Dutch Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agents, which has a membership of 220 Tour Operators and 1400 Travel Agents in the Netherlands. He is leading the ANVR team in reengineering the ANVR and its functions in line with the changing scenario of the travel industry and overall market conditions.

One important trend impacting the future of the travel agents community is the future of Dynamic Packaging, a method used in package holiday bookings to enable consumers to build their own package of flights, accommodation, and car rental instead of purchasing a pre-defined package.

TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni welcomed all these inaugural events at the TTM.

He said, “The strong presence of Yunnan province will certainly give a major boost for buyers seeking new destinations in this part of the world. At the same time, the inclusion of debates is now important in order to broaden industry discourse and provide an opportunity for such an important issues to be discussed in a comprehensive manner”.

Luminous returns to Vivid 2013

Ever wanted to play video games on a screen that's 150 metres wide and 4 stories high? Who hasn't?! Luminous returns to Darling Quarter with it's huge, interactive LED facade. http://bit.ly/19qavyz

When: 24 May - 10 Jun 6:00 pm - Midnight
Venue: Darling Quarter, Sydney, Australia 
Price: Free
Website: http://www.vividsydney.com 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Shangri La Hotel Bangkok’s Own Hidden Sanctuary - Chi Spa

Enter a sanctuary where relaxation transcends time. Where the mind and body are at peace in a world of tranquility. Chi Spa, the Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok’s signature spa is an escape from the busy streets of Bangkok where one can unwind in traditional, first class comfort.

From the moment one enters, the hospitality and genuine willingness of the staff to assist and make one feel like royalty are clear. Welcome tea and a comfortable seat are offered to decide on a treatment. After choosing the 1 hour 45 minute hot stone massage from recommendation, I was taken to a private room to change, then have my feet washed, cleansed and dried. As heavenly as this was, it was time to move to the massage bed and allow myself to truly become part of this experience.

Beginning with a full body massage to warm up the muscles, I was already feeling unbelievably relaxed before the hot stones were then used to massage my body. Gently at my request, every effort was taken to ensure I was comfortable and at ease. This is when time seemed to stop. The combination of the relaxation music, touch and pressure of the hot stones resulted in a breathtakingly calmed body and state of mind, where years could have passed with each minute unbeknown to myself.

Finishing by placing the hot stones on my body whilst my head and neck were massaged, I had forgotten all reality. However it was time to finish, change, and again be escorted to be welcomed back with tea and an offering to stay as long as I like in the waiting area until ready to leave. Undoubtedly, I had to re-enter normal life. However, ultimately feeling an unimaginable calmness in the busy city.

Website: http://www.shangri-la.com/bangkok

*Written by Sarah Llewelyn, who was a recent guest at the Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok

What On Earth Is Pecha Kucha?

Leonie Rogers, writer
It sounds like a Peruvian tourist destination but it’s actually the art of succinct presentation.

Japanese for chit chat, Pecha Kucha started in Japan in 2003 as a way for young designers to show and talk about their work. Each presenter had twenty slides lasting twenty seconds each, a total of six minutes and forty seconds, over which they discussed their work.

Since then the format has been used and adapted worldwide in all sorts of settings but maintained a focus on creativity. Now Pecha Kucha comes to the Upper Hunter.

Arts Upper Hunter, in collaboration with Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre, will be holding a Pecha Kucha at the Centre. Ten artists from Muswellbrook and beyond will talk about their work in writing, dance, theatre, photography, Aboriginal heritage and visual art with the aid of their projected images.

Arts Upper Hunter’s Mark Reedman said, “The aim of the event is to see what makes artists tick and get an insight into the ups and downs of being an artist.”

Hosted by ABC Radio’s Mike Pritchard, each presentation will be followed by a short question time.

The Pecha Kucha is at Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre on Friday May 24 and starts at 7 pm. A light supper will be provided. The cost is $10 and $5 concession. For bookings and further information call Arts Upper Hunter on 0409382509 or get your ticket at the door.

Pecha Kucha
Friday the 24th of May
Date: Friday 24th May 2013
Time: 7pm.
Venue: Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre. Cnr Bridge & Market Sts, Muswellbrook, NSW Australia.
Cost: $10 adult, $5 for concession.
Tickets: To book call Mark Reedman 0409 382 509, limited number at the door.

G Hotel- Malaysia's Most Stylish Address

Ultra chic and unmistakably stylish, G Hotel emerges as an urban icon at Penang's bustling Gurney Drive. With its stunning interiors and modern contemporary design, G hotel boasts the most stylish address on the island as well as in Malaysia.

G Hotel suffuses modernity, in terms of its bold and innovative approach. The genesis of G is very much inspired by its location whilst the emblematic design of our logo reflects the quirkiness and welcoming nature of our living space. It is an urban oasis for both discerning business and leisure travellers, allowing them to indulge in every imaginable comfort whilst enjoying impeccable service and ultra modern facilities.

The energetic pulse of Penang's most prominent boulevard outside resonates the moment one enters G Hotel. The welcoming lobby evokes a sense of grandeur that continues right through the hotel.

One of the most inspiring is the Spoon chair, an eye-catching creation by Kartell's Antonio Citterio. With slim, curved lines that mirror the outlines of a spoon, the revolutionary stool is designed to reflect the modern requirements of style and comfort. Its delicate exterior is both practical and artistic with special attention given not only to the functionality of the chair, but also to the formal elegance of the design.

Another striking piece of furniture in G Hotel is the Capellini Felt chair designed by Marc Newson. This armchair is made of naturally polished aluminium base with a reinforced fibreglass body lacquered in bright, classic colours. The Felt chair portrays a distinctive retro feel to the atrium. Marc Newson's designs have since propelled him into the pop cultural scene, with several pieces even used in Madonna's music videos and Austin Powers' films. His work has been defined as cultural symbols, requested by some of the best museums around the world.

For stylish comfort with a hint of poise, look out for Carl Hansen's Shell chair. This three-legged masterpiece was originally introduced in 1963, and then brought back onto the surface in 1997.

G Hotel's guests will discover how the distinctive modernistic style is carried through to the rest of the hotel. Most notably, Dedon pool furniture takes centre stage as each piece is meticulously hand-woven with a highly durable synthetic fibre called Hularo. Set against wooden timber deck, Dedon's Daydream beds add subtle luxury and sophistication for those relaxing by the infinity pool.

Through clever use of architecture, lightings and furniture, G Hotel manages to encapsulate contemporary simplicity with sufficient attention to detail. All 311 hotel rooms and suites feature minimalist style furniture and monochromatic colour scheme with strong modernity theme continuing into the immaculate open-concept bathrooms.

For the finest in service and facilities, the G Executive Floor is unparalleled. Guests will have the privilege of experiencing speedy check-in at the Executive Floor where one can opt for standard, superior or deluxe rooms all equipped with high speed Internet connectivity. All guest rooms are tastefully furnished in fresh and contemporary design with functionality in mind.

G Hotel represents a calming retreat within an urban sprawl. With first-class facilities including a swimming pool, spa, gym, yoga, and trend-setting restaurants, the hotel caters for any indulgence to both staying guests and visitors.

Complementing facilities such as business centre, function rooms, and a cavernous grand ballroom ensure that the savvy corporate travellers' needs are well served. G Hotel's Business Centre is designed to provide fuss-free professional services to its corporate clients. G Hotel also offers excellent conference and banqueting facilities for the increasing significant MICE sector. The Grand Ballroom can accommodate up to 500 pax which is suitable for large gatherings, seminars and wedding receptions. There are also 5 function rooms ideal for board meetings, business planning sessions as well as working lunches. Users can expect the latest array of peripherals such as teleconference and videoconference equipment, state of art audio-visual equipment and lighting.

G Hotel offers complimentary cycling facilities for those wanting to cycle in style and comfort. The facility is extended to the hotel guests who wish to cycle around town area. All bicycles come with full set of cycling equipments; safety hat and vest which are also available for the hotel guests during their stay. Our guests can now cycle in style along the prominent Gurney Drive and explore the award-winning heritage trail.

For reservations or further details on G Hotel, please contact the hotel directly at +604 238 0000 or email g4u@ghotel.com.my.

Tourism Australia Toasts New 'Best Of Wine' Tourism Initiative

Tourism Australia has teamed up with some of the country’s top wineries in a major new national partnership, which aims to raise the profile of Australia as one of the world's leading wine tourism destinations.

'Ultimate Winery Experiences of Australia'is a consortium of high-end, award winning wineries offering unique wine experiences including barrel, private and structured tastings, food-wine matching, wine education and gastronomy in spectacular locations within renowned wine regions.

The group includes Jacobs Creek and Seppeltsfield from the Barossa Valley; Leeuwin Estate and Xanadu from Margaret River; De Bortoli, TarraWarra and Yering Station from the Yarra Valley; Wyndham Estate from the Hunter Valley; Montalto on the Mornington Peninsula; Moorilla Estate and Josef Chromy from Tasmania.

Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said the collaboration also included support from State tourism offices and aimed to tap into the potential of the combined wine and tourism industries, worth A$140 billion annually to the country’s economy.

“Tourism Australia is really pleased to be involved in this new exciting initiative, which allows us to support the tourism and wine industries by packaging up and promoting the best of the best of Australia’s wineries, cellar doors and wine experiences,” Mr McEvoy said.

“These wineries are not simply venues to taste and purchase wine. Most of them offer a complete tourism experience - restaurants, accommodation, tours, as well as exciting behind the scenes winery experiences. They allow visitors to interact with the product, the winemaker and enjoy first-hand, the rich diversity that our many wine regions have to offer,” he said.

Marketing Manager of Moorilla Estate in Tasmania, Brooke Copping said the new initiative offered Moorilla Winery the opportunity to reach an international audience - something they didn't have the resources to do on their own.

“We are passionate about promoting Australia as a food and wine destination, and believe it’s an essential part of building the reputation of Australian tourism at home and abroad. We have incredible quality in our regions and this is a terrific opportunity to build Australia’s brand in the food and wine world,” said Greg Stirling, Head of Brand Sites and Visitations Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre.

Wine is the latest tourism experience to be included under Tourism Australia’s ‘Best of Australia’ banner – joining Great Golf Courses of Australia and Great Walks of Australia launched last year.

“Tourism Australia is backing this and other best of Australia initiatives because they so ably demonstrate why there's nothing like Australia - in this case by showcasing our wonderful wine experiences and the great tourism experiences that lie beyond them,” Mr McEvoy said.

The partnership will be extended in subsequent phases to include other outstanding vineyards offering wine experiences beyond the cellar door in Australia, many within iconic settings attractive to both domestic and international tourism visitors.

The launch of 'Ultimate Winery Experiences of Australia' follows the signing of a three year marketing agreement between Tourism Australia and Wine Australia in December last year, aimed at jointly promoting wine and tourism in key international markets such as China, the USA, UK, and Canada as well as Australia.

The new wine initiative is backed by international research carried out by BDA Marketing last year on behalf of Tourism Australia which showed that, despite perceptions, Australia’s food and wine is ranked very highly amongst actual visitors to Australia.

Vanuatu Presents a Jam-packed Eventory of Festivals and Events

Vanuatu Marlin Classic

Vanuatu is host to a wealth of cultural festivals and sporting events this year set to lure even more Aussie travellers to the islands’ spectacular shores. The calendar of events offers an extraordinary variety of experiences for visitors to explore, as well as the opportunity to combine a relaxing holiday with a rare cultural ritual or sporting challenge.

Culture vultures and music aficionados will be drawn to Vanuatu’s Fête de la Musique festival in June, the Port Sandwich Art and Culture Festival in August, and Lukaotem Gud Santo Festival in September as well as the Saint Andrew cultural festival in November. These celebrations enable travellers to really immerse themselves in the local culture and traditions, creating life long memories.

For sporting enthusiasts, Vanuatu presents an assortment of action-packed events including the Vanuatu Marlin Classic in May and Vanuatu Golf Open in September. Those seeking best of both worlds won’t want to miss the Kiwanis Charity Cup in July, the biggest and most vibrant event in the Vanuatu social calendar.

With this and more, Vanuatu offers an experience for all on its 2013 eventory. Here’s a taste of what’s in store:

Vanuatu Marlin Classic, 26 May – 1 June 2013

Grand Hotel and Casino - Port Vila, Efate Island
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Vanuatu Marlin Classic. Located in the spectacular Port Vila harbor,the tag and release marlin tournament is held over seven days. A single entry can be a choice of one, two or three days out of the seven. First prize is AU$20,000!

Fete de la Musique, 21 June 2013

Port Vila, Efate Island and Luganville, Espiritu Santo
The Fête de la Musique festival celebrates the magic of music. Amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to take to the streets and free concerts abound bring all genres of music to life for attendees.

Kiwanis Charity Cup, 13 July 2013

Melektri, Efate Island
The races in Vanuatu are more like a tropical version of the Australian outback’s Birdsville than Melbourne’s own Flemington, but the party atmosphere beats both iconic events hands down. The Kiwanis Charity Cup, the pinnacle of Kiwanis Charity Races Week, attracts a colourful crowd of 10,000 each year.

Port Sandwich Art and Culture Festival, 16-17 August 2013

Lamap, Malekula Island
The local community of Lamap invites travellers to celebrate their culture, traditions and unique way of life during this two-day festival. An authentic pig exchange ceremony, local skill displays, as well as dance, music and stories, combined with delicious organic island cuisine await. There is also an option for guests to stay with a host family in the village overnight to gain a truly authentic and cultural experience.

Back to My Roots, 22-24 August 2013

Olal, Ambrym Island
Witness a colourful array of Ambrym cultural performances and traditions at this lively event. The festival begins with a traditional opening ceremony followed by dances, flute-playing, magic demonstrations, local food, children's games and sand-drawing displays. The festival culminates with a performance of the local custom dance on the last day.

Vanuatu Golf Open, 10-15 September 2013

Port Vila Golf and Country Club, Efate Island
The annual Vanuatu Golf Open (VGO) attracts professionals and amateurs from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands – many who return year after year to tee off and enjoy the nightly entertainment. A significant event on the South Pacific Golfing calendar, professionals can gain order of merit points for the PGA in Australia.

Lukaotem Gud Santo Festival, Date 16 – 20 October 2013

Luganville, Espiritu Santo
The Lukaotem Gud Santo Festival is a two-day family friendly music festival that draws almost 200 musicians from around the Pacific, including Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Australia, and proudly hosts many kastom performance groups and musicians from Vanuatu’s Samna Province. The festival emphasises environmental awareness and respect for local customs through music.

Saint Andrew, 29 November 2013

Rah Island and Mota Lava Island
For more than 100 years, the people of Rah and Mota Lava islands have been coming together to celebrate the life of Saint Andrew. During this fascinating cultural festival, visitors can join the locals as they fish using a giant traditional coconut leaves fishing net, taste the “volcano baked” food, see the famed sea snake dances and trek up the Rock of Rah or the Sleeping Giant mount.

For further details about Vanuatu and what’s on visit vanuatu.travel